Kathy Martin’s life story (21)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues with our life in Cyprus
Written May 2008
As a matter of interest we live in an area where earthquakes are a possibility, and we also have occasional (but very minor) earth tremors. All buildings here are constructed with reinforced concrete.
First, the foundations are dug, and concreted. Then, wooden “boxes” are constructed, reinforcing rods inserted and the box filled with concrete. This is done for both the horizontal and vertical beams. The wood is taken away (and re-used), and then the “skeleton” is left to weather in for a 12-month period.
This is to allow the concrete to attain maximum strength. The spaces are then filled with bricks, windows, doors etc. This makes the building earthquake resistant.
We made the final payment for our flat and we now have the keys and will start moving in soon. We went out for as celebratory meal at the China Garden. Tariq (the manager) chatted to us during the evening and we told him our news. At the end of the evening he said that when we moved our heavy/bulky stuff (washing machine, beds etc.) he would supply a van and “muscle” for us. No doubt money will change hands, but will be cheap!
We had a fantastic holiday in the UK, visited friends in Hastings and London, along with Sasha, Jon and Alex in Wales, incidentally our last trip made to the UK. We got up early on 20th June 2008 (we don’t normally do early!). At 04.30 we had coffee on our veranda, temperature 29c, then to the airport. Flight went without any problems, as did our car hire at Gatwick, but midday temperature 16c!
On our return from UK, we very happily moved into our flat on 25th July 2008.
After just over 32 years we were in our very first 100% owned home!
At beginning of September 2008, our builders told us that we could go and see Kibtek (the electricity board) to set up our account with them (we had been using our builder’s electricity via an extension lead, paying quite a high rate). We had read, the weekend before (end of August) that the price had gone up! From 1 September it would cost many lira more (without a guarantor)! Something that we had discovered was that if we could get a Turkish Cypriot to guarantee us it would be about 500 lira cheaper.
So, we had spoken to Sadık (we bought our car off him and have known him since our first visit here, as the hire cars we had were also from him) and he said he would be delighted to “guarantee” us. So after having spent about an hour and a half in the Kibtek offices, understandably they (Kibtek) would not come out just to install ours, we got to the stage of paying the deposit and then we mentioned we had a guarantor. The chap said (we think he was joking!) that we should have told him earlier and that we needed to get our guarantor down here straightaway or else we’d have to start the whole process again!
The process we went through is as follows:–
- We got a number (like at a supermarket delicatessen) and waited for our number to be displayed
- The clerk checked the clerical files, extracted “our” paperwork, and attached it to a copy of our sales agreement. He then checked the computer system, made an entry, and annotated the top line of a form that he attached to the paperwork.
- We had to go out of the main entrance, along the pavement to a side entrance and go the office one on the 1st We waited for someone to attend to us, when this happened the person checked the computer system, made an entry and annotated the 2nd line on the form.
- We had to go to office 3 (on the same floor), where we waited for someone to attend to us. When this happened the person checked the annotations and then made an entry on the computer system, and then made an annotation on the 3rd line of the form.
- We had to return to the start where the first person checked the annotations and (again) the computer system. As we were already “in the flow” we did not have to take another number, but “butted in” as we had seen others do while we were waiting.
- This was when we mentioned our “guarantor”!
We rang Sadık and luckily he was able to come to the offices, so after about ½ hour he came and we were able to sort everything out. Now we have to wait another month (we asked our builder if this was a real month or a Cypriot month and he said he hoped it was a real month)! So hopefully by early October we will be “live” on our own meter. We were!
The next thing to happen was that our air-conditioners were installed, although we promised not to use them until we were on our own electricity meter. Our two portable electric fans proved to be very useful! Our cooker (separate gas hob and eye level electric oven) were also fitted.
In our last letter we said that the on-site swimming pool would be ready on a Wednesday, well that Wednesday, eventually came and we loved getting home hot and going for a quick dip to cool off!
We are gradually putting our bits and pieces were we want them and OUR home is really feeling more like home.
By the way, Alistair has found his medal from Operation Repulse in 1976; it was in something that had not been unpacked since our move from Pett! He NEVER told me in detail why he was awarded the medal and only found the real reason after he died. (The link is shown at the end of this blog)
Back in July we had to renew our driving licences, we had got two year ones when we first applied in July 2006. We were very lucky, as we decided to get ten year ones, this time, and the price went up about 150 lira about 2 weeks after we got ours! Also, they stopped issuing ten year licences!
There are 2 ways to renew a driving licence here
- Drive to Lefkoşa (over an hour round trip). Find the elusive administration office; join a queue to get forms (in Turkish, but to us would be no problem). Leave the queue, complete the forms, and rejoin the queue, hand over the forms, passport type photos and passports to verify residency status then return in about two days in the hope that the licences have been produced, if not, repeat until successful.
- Or use a local agent in Girne, who for a small fee will do all the “legwork”.
We chose option 2 and had dealings with two rather attractive Turkish sisters in their late teens/early twenties. When Alistair went to collect the licences only the younger sister was present, she recognised Alistair and said “You must have my sister…..” Alistair was just about to firmly, but politely decline (of course he would!) this generous and thought provoking offer when she continued “….there is problem, my sister speak English good.” The problem was that only my licence had been produced. As I did all the driving this was not a problem to us! However, Alistair was offered a container the size of a shoebox with all the licences that they held, so that he could check himself. If there is a Data Protection Act here, it is ignored! Alistair had access to names, addresses and even facial images of about 50 people! Alistair’s licence was produced about a week later!
Written May 2009
As you know we have been here since 6th May 2006. Our only regret is that we are still out of short and economic travelling time and distance from Jon, Sasha & Alex. Apart from this the advantages still far outweigh the disadvantages.
One of the disadvantages years ago was frequent power cuts. However Kibtek (the power company) have not only replaced the 40-ish year old generators left over from British rule, but also replaced the cabling. Therefore, occasionally, conversations start “We had a power cut last night…” rather than “We didn’t have a power cut last night…” We reckon Kibtek must have been reading our letter (joking) as we have had a power cut, for approx 30 minutes each time, every day over the last 3 days!
Read about Alistair’s medal in
My life continues next time